Memphis will devote $70 million in recovery funds to Pyramid, Pinch District

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The City of Memphis will put all $70 million of its federal recovery act bonds into sprucing up the Pyramid Arena and surrounding Pinch District, officials said Tuesday.

The funds will help make way for Bass Pro Shops to lease the iconic, yet unoccupied, Pyramid.

The Pinch District is a semi-developed entertainment district at the foot of the Pyramid.  Tuesday, Action News 5 asked taxpayers if they think the funds should be used to fix up the Pinch District and the Pyramid, despite the fact Bass Pro Shops has not yet signed a binding agreement to lease the arena.

"I think it's good for the community, good for Downtown and good for Memphis," Memphian Larry Kerley replied.

Kerley lives in the suburbs, but frequents downtown.  Meanwhile, Memphian Calvit Ratcliff lives downtown, but rarely frequents the Pinch.

"I don't usually come to this area because it does need a facelift," he said.

The Pyramid/Bass Pro Shops lease agreement hinges on the Pinch redevelopment. The federal recovery funds will not only pay for that, but will also fix infrastructure issues outside the Pyramid like new sidewalks, drainage and earthquake damage prevention measures.

Kerley said the new construction would have positive side effects.

"Puts folks back to work," he said. "In turn, that helps Memphis City Schools, the county schools and everything that goes with it."

Despite the fact Bass Pro has not signed a binding agreement with the city, both men see the investment as a means to an end.

"I don't mind that, because I think somebody will come down there," Kerley said.

Tuesday, the city's Industrial Board voted in favor of using federal recovery funds for the redevelopment of Pinch and the Pyramid.  That further paves the way for Bass Pro to move in, despite yet another extension on their deadline.

There's no telling if Bass Pro Shops' Pyramid location will still meet its planned opening date in November, 2011.

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